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This remarkable run from Italy continues as they’ve now gone 26 matches unbeaten, winning 21 of those and head into this tournament slightly under the radar with all the focus being on England, Belgium and the three ‘group of death’ nations.
A 7-0 win over San Marino in their last friendly game was to be expected, and they should find life a little tougher against this Czech side.
While the Czech Republic aren’t the side they used to be in the early to mid-noughties, they’ve seen a small climb in the rankings recently and they definitely have a few dangerous players, not least in the form of West Ham duo Vladimir Coufal and Tomas Soucek.
Those kinds of players have been enough for the Eastern European side to remain competitive in games even if results do sometimes evade them, and there’s no doubt that they’ll prove trickier to beat than most would think when the Euros gets underway next week.
Indeed, they’ve gone a quite balanced W11-D1-L7 going back to March 2019, a run which has included a win over England and a draw when hosting Belgium.
Though what’s also notable about that run is that all seven of those defeats came by just a single goal margin, and we wouldn’t expect them to get overrun as Italy look to experiment with a preferred eleven before the group stages.
Italy To Win 1-0
Italy do, however, possess a greater threat than the majority of the teams they faced in that time, but for the Czechs to go W1-D1-L1 against England, Belgium and Germany in that time is no mean feat.
The Azzurri have build a strong defensive resolve under Roberto Mancini, and have currently gone over seven and a half hours without conceding a goal, a run stretching back to October last year when conceding against the Netherlands in a 1-1 draw.
That’s now seven wins-to-nil on the bounce, though having faced Estonia, Bosnia, Poland, Northern Ireland, Bulgaria, Lithuania and San Marino in that time and only scoring two or more goals in two of those games, we’d be surprised to see them put their opponents to the sword here.
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Under 2.5 Goals
These friendly matches are often a good way to test out some players that the manager has been wanting to have a look at, in order to decipher their strongest starting eleven, and with that rotation comes some teething issues.
Combine that with the fact that players are reluctant to play at the highest possible intensity in an attempt to avoid getting injured pre-tournament, and we have the recipe for a low scoring, mundane affair.
On that basis, the ‘Unders’ bet looks a strong shout, and the correct scoreline fits the recent form trends perfectly here so is worth a flutter.